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iOS 4 On iPhone 3G: A Little Performance Relief

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I decided to upgrade one of my iPhone 3G’s to iOS 4 and leave the other one on iPhone SDK 3.1.3 after purchasing two new iPhone 4’s. Realizing that the upgrade did not have much to offer, the fate of the iOS 4 iPhone 3G was to be utilized as more of an iPod touch for my six-year-old daughter.

I followed some of my own advice and started turning off many features that I felt my daughter wouldn’t use like Notifications, Sounds, Vibrations, Bluetooth, Location Services, 3G Data, Cellular Data, Data Roaming, iPod Controls. I even placed the iPhone in Airplane Mode and turned off Spotlight Search. I did turn restrictions on, if for no other reason than just to disable iTunes, Installing Apps, and especially In-App Purchases. I loaded up the iPhone with no less than 100 Apps (almost all were games), her favorite television episodes, movies, music, and family photos. Wi-Fi was enabled around the house and she’s been using e-mail as well as Skype to communicate to family and friends.

What I didn’t realize was that I was unknowingly configuring the iPhone 3G for the best possible performance running iOS 4. The battery life has been phenomenal since the update with the feature configuration I used for her, almost on par with our family iPad (which is also a Wi-Fi only device).  Several blogs have reported that simply turning off Spotlight Search (Settings > General > Home Button > Spotlight Search) is all it takes to get back some of the performance lost when upgrading from iPhone SDK 3.1.3 to iOS 4.0. While I haven’t determined if this configuration change alone does the trick, I can say that I have not seen the same severe degradation in performance the others have reported. Keep in mind that I turned off way more than just the Spotlight Search, and have no reason to turn those other services back on in the near future.

iOS 4 Home Button Settings

Now that users seem to have accepted the iPhone 4 issues, attention is shifting to the older iPhone 3G and its issues when upgrading to iOS 4. It is unknown if the just-released iOS 4.1 beta 2 will address any of these performance issues, or if it’s just wishful thinking. I for one will be keeping my second iPhone 3G on iPhone SDK 3.1.3 for a little while longer.

20 Responses to “iOS 4 On iPhone 3G: A Little Performance Relief”

    • I have also been playing with a iPhone 3G. In the past there was an interesting app called Scan or Memory Scan. It gives you a print out of how much free memory the device has. When my device gets below 2 Meg free, it starts to have issues. You can push a button in the App and clear 30 Meg which fixes the phone without doing a hard reboot.

      Over time the phone gets slower and slower and the free memory has gone down from 30 Meg to around 1.5 meg. The question is which application is causing the problem?

      Due to location, I did not have internet for a while so I played games on the machine and used it as an iPod. The memory leak was gone. It never slowed down. Once I got back to WIFI and started using the internet, it went back to its old habits. For me it takes about 3 or 4 hours of use before the free memory goes to 2 Meg or less.

      My guess is that the browser or some part of connecting to the internet was the cause but it might well be something else. I do have Spotlight search turned off.

  1. Ha ha ha what the heck is the prob with some of your nerds. He clearly states what he has done and what the outcome was. Why are nerds such sarcastic, prissy little dick cheeks? Needless to say Im no member of an elite tech savvy gang so the tips here have greatly improved my 3G, yes I can live with out beeps from facebook or email the exact moment some activity has occurred, and can wait till Im taking a crap in the port-a-poty to check it out myself. I thank you sir for sharing your experience, the rest of you creeps should be dumped in the woods with nothing but your egos to serve you.

    • paul grennan

      Why are nerds such sarcastic, prissy little dick cheeks? …
      It doesnt take a Nerd to realize that if you turn off all the features on your iPhone the battery will last longer. Stupid pointless blog telling anyone with half a brain what they allready know. Turning off all these features should not be necessary. If you bought a car with air-con, radio, satnav ect how would you feel if you were told you could only drive it with these features turned off? defeats the purpose of buying it in the first place…you certainly wouldnt post a blog telling people about it.

  2. very funny, when you said… What I didn’t realize was that I was unknowingly configuring the iPhone 3G for the best possible performance running iOS 4. The battery life has been phenomenal since the update….

    You just mentioned before that line that you turned off the Notifications, Sounds, Vibrations, Bluetooth, Location Services, 3G Data, Cellular Data, Data Roaming, iPod Controls.. therefore that’s the reason the battery life is improved.

    • My original goal was solely to improve battery life, nothing more than that. The welcomed outcome was similar (to slightly degraded) performance to that of my iPhone 3.1.3 3G in addition to drastically improved battery life.

      Since it is now primarily a gaming device, once the game has loaded, it appears to perform as well as before I upgraded. The games are definitely playable, and still jut as fun.

  3. Ummm yeah if you turn off 90% of its features what is left is probably going to run good.

    How you can compare what you did to people like me that have a 3G, provided by work, that tried to use the phone in the same way they did before the iOS upgrade, makes me seriously wonder about your subjectivity.

    Turning off spotlight helped a little. Going back to 3.1.3 was like getting a new phone. 3G + iOS 4.x = FAIL.

    • As stated, I have two 3G phones to work with, and the second will remain 3.1.3 for now. I offered up my observations on the feature gains of iOS4 on a 3G in an earlier post.

      As for my subjectivity, I have a test and a control unit to work with. The comparison between the two is noticeable. Yes, my iPhone SDK 3.1.3 3G executes ‘stock’ features faster than my iOS 4 3G. Neither are ‘phones’ any more as the do not have voice or data plans. They are both WiFi only devices now.

  4. I’ve not upgraded my own 3G precisely for fears that it might negatively impact performance–not that I didn’t try, a couple of times already. But the other major reason I’ve decided to forego iOS 4–at least for now–has to do with how long it takes to upgrade.

    I can’t be without the use of my phone for hours at a time. Even trying to upgrade overnight was taking too long. So I guess I’ll be enjoying iOS 4 whenever I “upgrade” to a new iPhone…

  5. giovanni1975

    I did this also with my 3G phone but it made no difference. So I downgraded to software version 3 and my iPhone is now practically lightning speed! I’m so happy – it’s like a brand new phone again. So no need to buy a new iPhone this year methinks.

  6. THANK YOU, by just switching off spotlight (what I didn’t use much on the iPhone) I got some performance back and will make the wait for the white iPhone 4 must easier!!!

    • And that is pretty much what it is being used as. It has replaced her fisher price digital camera, her leapster leap pad, and her ipod nano all in one device. Originally I was turning unused features off in an effort to preserve battery life for the camera, ipod and games. Had no idea at the time that it would turn out to be a prescribed means to increase performance.

  7. I love the statement “I followed some of my own advice and started turning off many features that I felt my daughter wouldn’t use like Notifications, Sounds, Vibrations, Bluetooth, Location Services, 3G Data, Cellular Data, Data Roaming, iPod Controls”

    That just cracked me up…

    If I turned off that stuff on my daughter’s phone, it would be murder by iPhone… Surely with that all turned off, you would be better buying an old Nintendo DS !!!

    This put a smile on my face. Thank You!

    • Keep in mind that it is no longer a phone as I do not have the device on our family voice or data plan. It is now just being used as an iPod with a camera. Skype over wifi will suffice for now. If I was going to activate a new line, I would have at least spent the $99 and got her a 3GS.

  8. Apples reliance on customer loyalty seems to bet getting further abused, early up takers of there technology are once again receiving the brunt of the issues and just like Apples over censorship (now also in the bookstore) reported in the last few days this will create another setback that I’m sure the company could have done with not coming to light at the moment in time.

    However for them to neglect the full testing of iOS4 on the 3g , means inturn there neglecting the need of current customers it seems there so focused on “this changes everything” that they forget what everything is or was and that should be providing full support to current consumers of there products.

    It is another setback once again for Apple it will be interesting to see what’s next in the news regarding iPhone/iPad issues (antenna, manufacturing and service charges) and their steps to refund cases won’t make up for the iPhone 4’s lack of function over form.

    But Apple have created such a loyal following that people may just put up with what issues there are for the sake of owning the latest Apple product.
    Personally, I’d be happier with an older iPhone – at least then the issues are all ironed out.

    However, it’s also interesting to see how much excitement new technologies can bring. New technology and innovation is important for new business, illustrated by entrepreneurship grants and new business competitions like

    Guess it’s not all bad!

  9. I still don’t get why, according to Apple performance was intolerable on the first gen iPhone… but apparently the 3g was up to par. They’re the same phone with different radios… did somebody there miss a memo?